A Day at Mount Vernon More Than I Expected

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jun 15, 2011 Under Homeschool, Revolutionary War Sites, Travel, Uncategorized

We arrived to Mount Vernon a little after 10 this morning. I was thinking we would spend a few hours there and then head up to Pennsylvania. We stayed till five and we rushed through parts of it. There is so much to do there that you can easily spend a whole day or more.

We purchased the President’s Package, which gave us access to everything on the estate and an audio tour. We started with orientation film, which I was a good introduction and give a good tip about the movie we would have missed later. We then headed to the wharf to catch out boat ride on the Potomac River.  On the way we stopped at Washington’s Tomb and the slave memorial. Claire was very interested in the were the slave graves where.

The boat ride was my least favorite part of the day. I like boats so that part was fine. The narrative was recorded and only a few brief little segments. It was a little disappointing after other boat tours we have been on.  If you don’t like a lot of talking and just want a nice leisurely ride then this trip is for you. If you don’t have a full day to spend at the estate then this would be what I would skip.

After the boat ride, we went to the demonstration farm. You can find the crops that were grown by Washington., slave quarters and the highlight – a 16-sided barn. This barn was the invention of Washington to help separate the seed from the wheat.

We took the forest trail from the farm area to the house. The trail had some interesting signs along the way describing how the forest had changed since Washington’s time.  It was steep but not too long and a nice walk.

We waited in line less than thirty minutes to see the house and honestly that was not my favorite part. I felt rushed through the rooms and I prefer other house tours that really take the time to tell the stories of the house.  I understand that they are trying to get a lot of people through the house though. Cobey liked seeing the room where Lafayette slept and Claire like Washington’s chair with a fan above that you moved by pressing a pedal.

We then went to the many outbuildings. The Dung Repository made us laugh. Claire liked the Blacksmith Shop. But our favorite was the building where we got to meet Martha Washington.  She sat and just carried on a conversation. We learned what the first Presidential pet was. We learned how being called First Lady came to be. I thought it was interesting how much time she spent with George during the war.  We could have stayed there longer but by this time we were starving. We went to the car and ate quickly then returned to finish up in the museum and education center.

The museum had some interesting pieces including Washington’s bed that had hinges so he could take it with him to battle.  I liked some beautiful pieces of Martha’s jewelry. Cobey liked George Washington’s swords of course. We finished up with our audio tour. I listened to the kid’s one mostly to know what they were learning and I thought it was done quit well. It had stories and was told from the perceptive of the cat at the plantation. I highly recommend it and think your kid will get much more out of their visit with the audio.

We then went to the education center.  We had to rush through this part but it is well put together and lots of interactive pieces.  We did stop to go the movie, which was one of the kid’s favorite parts. The seats moved and even snowed when Washington was crossing the Delaware.  They have an interactive play area for children under eight with a huge dollhouse that Claire would have loved staying to play at and dress up clothes.  The kids also liked the display of the inauguration where you placed your hand on the Bible and repeated the oath.

We stopped in the gift shop where the kids turned in their scavenger hunt and got a souvenir penny as their prize. It is one you can’t get from the machine. How cool is that?

The last stop is about three miles down the road and is a relatively new attraction. It is Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill.  We learned and saw how the corn is made in to cornmeal. The kids really enjoyed seeing the mill in action. We then learned how whiskey was made and the story of how Washington got into the business.  It was a good tour and not too long. I would definitely had this own if you have time.

It was an overall amazing day and more than I expected. I would love to go back and take the kids on the National Treasure Tour and see parts of Mount Vernon not seen in regular tour including the basement. I also want to look into having the kids do the flag raising in the morning. It is on my repeat list for sure.


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